Saturday, October 1, 2016

The gulf between words and deeds


Speaking true words is a facet of action referred to as the action of the tongue. It is the first tangible deed that someone performs when he announces his entry into Islam: “I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.” But what I mean here, more specifically, is the importance of action as a fundamental value in Islam, in terms of maintaining one's religion and developing the world around us. The indispensability of action, by itself, is a major principle that is supported by hundreds of texts from the Quran and Sunnah )traditions of the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam).

The success or failure of an individual, the strength or weakness of a society, and the happiness of this world with salvation in the next life all depend on action. Good deeds are the recognised valuables upon which hinge propitious results in the short and long term.

These actions that are deeds of righteousness must fulfil two important conditions:
1. A proper intention (sincerity)
2. Compliance with the Sunnah and the Sharee'ah (Islamic legislation)-also referred to as correctness.

Both of these conditions are addressed in the verse (which means): "[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed..." [Quran 67:2]

So, goodness of action relies upon two issues: sincerity for Allah and abiding by the Sharee'ah. The commentary of Al-Fudhayl Ibn 'Iyaadh may Allah have mercy upon him on this verse of chapter Al-Mulk (the Dominion) is well known. He said concerning “best in deed”: "The most sincere and the most correct."

If a deed is done sincerely but is not correct, it is not accepted. Similarly, if it is correct but not done sincerely, it is also not accepted. It is only accepted when it is done sincerely and correctly. I tried to enumerate the number of times that 'righteous deeds' was mentioned in the Quran. These two words were mentioned together about ninety times. The word action or deed when juxtaposed with another adjective other than righteous appears much more often (approximately three hundred times). It is a clear indication of the importance of actions in life. Even in dying, the deed of making an intention is required. This is why Allah Almighty Says (what means): "…So do not die except while you are Muslims." [Quran 2:132]

In western schools of thought generally, and in America more specifically, a new way of thinking, called 'Pragmatism', has sprung into existence that focuses mainly on work and production. This philosophy holds that real and palpable benefits are the yardstick of knowledge, meaning that real knowledge is that which can be practically applied and not merely theoretical knowledge that is cut off from everyday life.

The Divine praise for action implies disdain for two ways that are not on the path of truth: The first way is of the doer whose deed is not based upon true guidance and who has no knowledge of the divine laws. They are those whose deeds are described as being bad or evil. If the deed is a worldly one, it will not bear the desired fruit because it was not based on the proper vision or on true experience.
This meaning is from Allah, Almighty, when He Says (what means): "[Some] faces, that Day, will be humbled, Working [hard] and exhausted. They will [enter to] burn in an intensely hot Fire. They will be given drink from a boiling spring." [Quran 88:2-5]

And (what means): "Say [O Muhammad]: 'Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.'" [Quran 18:103-104]

Every group that is away from Allah's path falls under this category. Their worship of Allah Almighty is mixed with ignorance and falsehood.

Revolutionary schools of thought that do not form their ideas from Divine guidance also fall into this category. They base their efforts and actions on false premises. Their situation is as Allah Almighty describes it by Saying (what means): "Those before them had already plotted, but Allah came at [i.e., uprooted] their building from the foundations, so the roof fell upon them from above them, and the punishment came to them from where they did not perceive." [Quran 16:26]

The most illustrative example of this category in our times is Communism and its philosophical, political and societal roots. Most of its proponents never expected such disastrous results. All of their efforts resulted in harm and they were preoccupied in finding ways to support such a backward system.

The second way is of those who prefer inactivity and comfort. It is the philosophy that is blind to Allah's ways. In it, one wants all desires to come true without effort or toil. The nature of man in terms of being active and doing things makes the existence of such a group to seem dubious at best. But the fundamental qualities of this group become manifest in different ways, for example, those who persist in following their lusts and desires, or who think that it is sufficient for them to follow a particular slogan or be known by a particular name.

On this way are also those who have no goal or aim that they strive for. They are merely prisoners of their circumstances and their daily routines. Their behaviour is not steered by an ideology and their work is not linked to any important mission. They are drowned in work that has no meaning. One of them goes to work to pay off the mortgage on his house. He comes home to sleep, eat and drink only to be able to find the energy to perform his tasks at work! A machine without a spirit is what he has become. The one who is in these circumstances does not even realise the precarious situation that he is in.

Further down in the pit is the PhilosophicalSchool that gives no value to the intellect. To them, what is considered by man to be existing is in fact nonexistent. They disbelieve in values. Their aim is to destroy without offering an alternative way. Their goal is to destroy the social structure without having any intention of replacing it with another system.

Many are those who complain about the reality that they live in. They strive to destroy the structure of their society without caring for the fact that the supplanting system will be chaos.

Author: Shaykh Salmaan al-`Awdah


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